By Jayson Blair

Standing in the front of the coffee table last night, I picked up my phone to check the news and saw the headline. Robin Williams was dead at the age 63. I clicked on the link with a mindset that some horrible accident must have happened. Perhaps he died of a tragic illness that took his life early, like cancer. I was right about the tragic illness, it appeared. I had just picked the wrong horrible disease.

Early reports suggest that Williams, the actor and comedian known for his standup and movies like “Good Will Hunting,” “Patch Adams” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” died of asphyxiation, most likely caused, according to the Marion County, California sheriff’s office, by suicide. That Williams suffered from drug addiction I knew from his standup. What I did not know was that he suffered from the same disease that ailed me, bipolar disorder.

In a 2006 episode of “Fresh Air,” the NPR radio show, Williams told host Terry Gross, “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”

According to news accounts overnight, Williams’ spokeswoman, Mara Buxbaum, said that he had “been battling severe depression as of late.”

I sent a text to several friends who could relate, either because of their mental illness or their addictions. To one message with a friend who also has bipolar disorder, I wrote back, “Shame. For us at least. Hard to say whether it was for him.”

My comment may have seemed callous, but my friend knew what I meant. He wrote back, simply, “I agree.” The truth is that while it may be hard to understand why another person takes their own life, if you’ve been on the brink of that choice, you understand, as Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry who also has bipolar disorder, put it in the title of her book on suicide that ‘night falls fast.’

There is no question, as one commenter put it, that suicide is an insidious choice due to the lies that depression tells us. When those thoughts persistently and pervasively bombard you day in and day out or when they come out of nowhere like a drone attacking in the night’s sky, they can tear you down to the shreds of yourself, wither your resolve and leave you gasping for breath. The only way you see to stop the suffering is to end your life. People say that’s when suicide happens - when people listen to those voices, but I find that to be a metaphor that leads to gross over-simplification – you have little choice about whether you can listen to those voices. It’s your actions that hang in the balance.

By all accounts, Williams made every effort to seek help. By his own account, he spent 17 years clean and sober between 1986 and 2003. He described an addiction to cocaine and was a frequent partner, he said, alongside John Belushi, who died in 1982. Williams said on the show “Inside the Actor’s Studio” that the death of his friend and the birth of his son. “Was it a wake up-call?” Williams asked. “Oh yeah, on a huge level. The grand jury helped too.”

Bipolar disorder, I find, is such a benign phrase for such a terrible disease. It certainly has much less stigma attached to it than its preceding name, manic depression. But manic depression more aptly captures a disease that slams you from what can be a painful high to a crushing low, sending you up again often into a vice where both mania and depression, not mutually exclusive conditions, can squeeze you at the same time in a powerful vice. Too often, in an effort to show people how well those with bipolar disorder can function in life, we minimize how damning the disease can be for the sufferer.

Williams said that he relapsed via alcohol in 2003 while working in a small town in Alaska. In 2006, he checked himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation in Oregon. Williams’ addiction garnered much attention, but his struggle with the underlying conditions, as is true for so many people who get sober, did not. Williams’ co-stars on the set of “The Crazy Ones” said that he appeared so healthy this spring. It is a testament to how deceptive these diseases of the mind can be to the outside observer.

“He seemed to have this aura about him,” the actress, Marilu Henner, told USA Today. “But you don’t really know what lies beneath. It makes me so sad that it came to this.”

But like Williams, we all have many faces. His, at times, masked another solider in a silent army, fighting a secret war that their friends, family and admirers might not always see. Instead of focusing the very real sadness of his suicide, I want to raise a glass to Robin Williams – of something non-alcoholic, as a recovering addict myself – and hold a parade in his honor, for fighting this terrible disease for so long. He may not have made it through the battle, but his effort can be an inspiration for the rest of us to fight.
 By Lisa Krull

Lisa Krull
The other day, a fellow coach asked how my prior consulting experience influenced my perspective and ability as a coach. Hmmm, I thought. Has it? As coaches, we love powerful questions and this was a good one.

In general, I’m used to answering the more common question of how I made the transition from consulting to coaching. I get that question frequently from individuals contemplating a career change, and it has become an easy answer.

After earning my coaching certification, I kept my job as a full-time consultant and started small in my spare time—doing pro bono work, coaching other new coaches and being coached in return (a bartering type of arrangement), and finding an unpaid part-time internship to add experience to my resume. When the timing was right from a personal and professional standpoint, I took a leap of faith and haven’t looked back.

Sure, there’s coaching value that can be gleaned from this response (e.g. being proactive, building your resume, identifying the right timing, practicing your craft, etc.). But the question of how consulting has influenced my perspective and ability as a coach required much more thought. After several days of pondering, I found that it’s also a more fruitful response.

Overall, consulting taught me nearly everything I know professionally. I supported at least five different government agencies and multiple departments within those agencies. I also worked as an internal consultant, providing human resource support to senior leaders. Consulting afforded me the opportunity to gain countless skills—some of the most important being customer service excellence, networking, entrepreneurship, teamwork, patience, assertiveness, project/time management, and presentation skills.

As it turns out, these skills have quite a bit to do with my ability to coach individuals. Here are some examples:

Customer service excellence – As a consultant, I would lose my customer if I wasn’t meeting (and striving to surpass) his expectations. If I’m not sure what will make my client happy, I need to ask questions and become very clear about the end goals before I complete a project that misuses money and resources. Budgets get cut, organizations re-align, missions get changed – and it’s the consultant’s job to go with the flow and deal with unexpected challenges. Similarly, as a coach, I ask powerful questions and help clients identify solutions tailored to their unique needs. I’m not focused on my agenda—I’m focused on my client’s agenda. I continually ask clients what I can do to better support them, how I can be a more effective coach, and whether they’re seeing benefits from our coaching partnership.

Networking (and being proactive!) – Consultants build their network of colleagues, managers, and clients within and across organizations to land new project work and extend/maintain current work. And they actively keep in touch with those individuals. Networking is probably the most important skill (aside from customer service) that every consultant needs to demonstrate to be successful. Likewise, career coaches help their clients learn to network so that clients find the right jobs more quickly and efficiently. Let’s face it—the days of and are long gone. Research demonstrates that about 70%-80% of available jobs aren’t even advertised! How are 100% of individuals going to get hired when they are sitting behind a computer emailing job applications out for only 20%-30% of the job openings? The successful jobseekers learn to network to gain meaningful employment.

Teamwork – In consulting, teamwork is essential to uncovering solutions to difficult problems, meeting tight deadlines, and getting the job done. It requires that all members hold each other accountable and respect each other as individuals so that space is created for idea generation. In coaching, teamwork is an important part of establishing a trusted coach-client relationship. A coach helps empower the client to create solutions to problems and challenges him to think in new and different ways. If you didn’t think a team of two could be effective, just look at peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, or a hamburger and fries!

Entrepreneurship – In consulting, you use entrepreneurial skills to help your clients find novel solutions, develop business models, identify their brand, create work plans, and acquire project resources. As a coach, I use entrepreneurial skills to help clients think outside the box, create goals and action plans, and practice marketing/selling themselves to hiring managers or other leaders.
Through 11 years of consulting, I’ve seen organizations grow and shrink. I’ve experienced budget surpluses and budget cuts. I’ve spent time traveling and sitting in a cubicle. Recounting these experiences, I know that I will use my consulting skills for the rest of my life. Consulting has made me a better and more effective coach, and for that I am grateful.

Tell us what you would change about your life if you could change your career, and win a chance at free career testing.

Career testing is a great way to figure out your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching we are committed to doing just that. We utilize several assessments to help clients determine what they want to do with their lives. While tests do not give us all the answers, they do offer clues to help client's figure out their interests, skills and work-life preferences. The winner will be provided with a full MBTI Career Report, which includes the results of the Strong Interests Inventory combined with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator report.

To win free career testing and a session with one of our career coaches, contact us using the form on this page and tell us how you think you could benefit from career testing and what you would change in your life if you could move into a new career. One winner will be selected by September 1 and we will follow their career change -- using a pseudonym to hide their true identity -- here on our blog.

It costs nothing to enter this contest and all you have to do is submit your answers using the form on this page. Our staff will review the answers and will select a winner sooner afterwards. Please submit your answer by September 1!
Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
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Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
- See more at:
Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
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Laid off? Looking to climb the corporate ladder? Unsure about whether you have found your passion at work? Returning to work after having a child or recovering from a disability? 

One of the most difficult parts of returning to work, beginning to work or making a career transition is learning how to handle interviews. Most people do not realize that there are several different interview approaches and styles that employers can use to help determine the best candidates. Often these approaches are based on internal corporate culture that a career coach can help you identify and orient you toward.

There are four main types of selection interview approaches. Employers often use a combination of all of the above. 

  • Traditional interviews tend to be the most widely used technique. In these interviews, employers ask questions that pertain to a job and your qualifications. The interviewer often asks about what you would do in certain hypothetical situations similar to those that might arise on the job. An employer often asks similar questions of all candidates in these situations in order to compare them and distinguish them from each other.

  • Behavioral interviews are based on the idea that past performance and actions to predict how a candidate will perform in similar situations in the future. You might be asked questions that are designed to illicit information about previously demonstrated capabilities, personal qualities and weaknesses. In traditional interviews, questions are often open-ended and hypothetical. In behavioral interviews, questions tend to be focused on your performance in an actual situation. For example, in a traditional interview, an interviewer might ask, “How would you handle a disagreement with a peer on your team?” In a behavioral interview, the questioner might ask, “Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where team members disagreed.”

  • Case interviews, often typical in management consulting and analytical positions, focus on hypothetical situations that can be ambiguous. The purpose is to test your analytical and problem solving skills in assessing the situations and developing a solution.
  • Technical interviews, common in science and technology positions, focus on solving actual problems that potential employees could experience on the job.

Preparing for traditional interviews often focuses on your work history while behavioral interview preparation often involves learning how to use the STAR framework – Situation/Task, Actions and Results – to provide answers that give interviewers a solid idea of how you will perform in a situation. Case interview preparation often involves familiarizing yourself with the employer and having a strong grapse of standard techniques, probabilities and statistics. Case interview preparation often involves making sure you understand the situations, that you can think logically about the problem, that you can structure your response and have an innovative and concise conversation. Technical interviews often involve studying the core knowledge base of the field.

Not knowing the type of interview you are likely walking into is likely to harm your ability to succeed. Learning about each type leaves you prepared for virtually anything that can be thrown at you.

In addition to the selection interview approaches, prospective employees need to be able to develop skills that allow them to send the right message through a variety of different styles of interviewing, including face-to-face interviews; panel interviews; videoconferencing and Internet interviewing and mock interviews (in our company, prospective coaches are often asked to coach a client in front of a panel of employees). Preparing for these types – including the surprises – can be difficult without the help of a seasoned professional.

Our career coaches specialize in being able to sort out the different types of interviewing skills need for specific positions and how to best convey your skill set in each medium.

Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.

With each of these assessments, it is important to view the client in a broad context. I liken it to a narrowing funnel where I am able to examine a client’s interests through an assessment and filter in and out certain options. Examining a client’s preferred ways of operating in the world helps us further narrow the list. Reviewing a client’s resume, work history, life experience, confidence and skillset helps we funnel it even further. Then, examining the client’s financial, emotional, geographic and family needs helps us, hopefully, narrow the list to a promising handful of occupations that we begin exploring.

The process of helping people begin to search for a position moves more smoothly in many cases when we utilize assessments. Once the process is done, we are often ready to work together to apply for jobs, develop resumes, write winning cover letters and prepare for interviews. Knowing the client helps the coach do a better job; knowing yourself helps the client more easily get a job.

The three primary tests we utilize are the Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation. Clients can take any combination of the tests that they decide, with input from their coach, to take. There are several versions of each test, some focusing on college students, high school students, those going through career transition and other scenarios.

The Strong Interest Inventory helps us zero in on the top 10 occupations that have the potential to be most satisfying in a client’s life, general occupational themes that give us an idea of broad interest areas and personal styles in the work place. The Strong provides highly personalized results based on answers to hundreds of questions that compare the results to more than 250 occupations. The test also compares a client’s answers to answers of those who are satisfied or dissatisfied in certain fields. An option with the Strong is to also take a Skills Confidence Inventory that assess an individual’s self-assurance about their ability to succeed in certain fields.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator, known as the MBTI, is an assessment that has been taken by millions of people to help them develop a framework or positive change, to build better relationships and to realistically achieve their goals. The assessment results are based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type and provide practical information about a client’s preferred way of operating overall and in four specific areas. The areas of focus are based on whether an individual gets their strength from a natural outward focus or an inward focus; whether they prefer to take in information and process it through a step-by-step fashion or in an intuitive big picture fashion; whether they make decisions based on logic or personal considerations and whether they deal best with the world in a planned or spontaneous fashion.

The third test, the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation, or FIRO, helps us understand a client’s interpersonal needs and how those needs impact their behavior and communication style. Its primary focus is on how a client behaves toward other people and how a client wants people to behave toward them. The test assesses the client’s expressed – what they tend to do – and wanted – how much they want others to do -- need to be a part of a group, to control a situation and for affection.  The FIRO can help a client make change in their behaviors, give them specific insights into the needs of others and help us come up with developmental recommendations for clients.

Utilizing these assessments, along with individualized coaching, to help filter potential career fields helps increase the likelihood of success for our clients. It’s an approach that we designed to help make sure that when our clients come back, it’s only for tweaking of their resumes, preparing for an interview or getting ready for a change – not because they are still unsure of what their passion and their purpose is.

Our neighbor, Adam, who may have undiagnosed ADHD, is a wine enthusiast. His practical enjoyment of this hobby would greatly increase, I believe, if he obtained ADHD coaching that included mindfulness training.

Relaxed - No Anxiety Like many people with ADHD, Adam, a pseudonym for my real neighbor, is very intelligent, and when his mind alights on a topic that interests him, he will exhaustively explore it. His ability to hyper focus on things that fascinate him is common for people with ADHD, and potentially a great asset, but only if it isn't sabotaged by ADHD's less positive attributes. In at least in one instance, that sabotaging happened to Adam in his attempt to share his knowledge and enjoyment of wine.

A few other neighbors and I planned with Adam a French gourmet dinner, for which he was to choose the perfect wine. He researched thoroughly, made the ideal choice, and found one small wine store in the area that carried it. The store was located about 45 minutes away, so picking it up required a significant time investment from Adam.

When Adam arrived at the wine store, about four people were ahead of him in line. The clerk was taking quite a bit of time with the customer he was currently helping. Adam started to feel horribly restless, like a caffeinated, caged racehorse. He checked his phone, but he didn't have any messages. He looked around, but didn't see anything interesting. After about five minutes, the clerk was still helping the first customer, and Adam couldn't stand it anymore. He left without the wine.

Mindfulness coaching for ADHD would have enabled Adam to respond differently to the situation. First, it would have provided him techniques for waiting his turn in line without becoming hopelessly bored and restless. Although people with ADHD often have difficulty setting short and long-term goals for the future, they are always careening towards it. Usually, the present is something to be endured until they can race ahead to something more compelling or exciting. Mindfulness coaching trains those with ADHD to be present in the present, to become aware of the anxiety that makes the present feel intolerable, and find a place in their own bodies and minds to focus on rather than depending on external stimuli.

Second, mindfulness coaching would have helped Adam with the impulsiveness that caused him to leave the store. Instead of reacting to an urge born of anger, boredom, anxiety, or some other emotion of which Adam was unaware he was experiencing, mindfulness would have taught him to first observe his emotional experience non-judgmentally, and then to decide how he wished to respond to it. Thus, Adam wouldn't have been managed by his impulses, but rather his impulses would have been managed by him.

The dinner proceeded without the perfect wine, and the evening was still enjoyable.  Adam was already talking about the great wine he would bring next time. I couldn't help hoping that he would get a little mindfulness coaching before then.